When We Talk to Abuse Survivors

Yehudis Fletcher is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who testified against her abuser and has written about it. She does it to educate and to start the necessary conversation. She has sometimes succeeded but also encountered some weird stuff which illuminates the deficits in discourse about abuse.

She writes eloquently about that in her recent blog post in Britain’s Jewish News, On abuse, we haven’t even started talking. Below are some choice quotes, but treat yourself to her full article.

“We need considerate, empathetic dialogue that listens carefully to both survivors and professionals. It’s not enough to dot i’s and cross t’s on policies. Until we talk, we won’t be introspective. Until we talk, we won’t heal. Until we talk, we can’t stop it from happening again.”

“Most people who contact me… want me to make them feel better. They want reassurance I don’t count them among those who were guilty of … the biblical commandment ‘lo sa’amod al dam re’echa’, do not stand on your brother’s blood.”

“There is also the minority of people who … want to… convince me… they definitely do condemn real abuse, like my abuse. They just don’t want to condemn the abuser they love. Or the abuser they respect. Or the abuser in whose abuse they might have been complicit. Or the abuser they want to be able to continue to expose their children to.”

“They want me to somehow help them to feel better about that, so they reach out and tell me how sorry they are. I don’t want their sympathy. I want their learning.”

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